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‘Modern Family’ star Ty Burrell headlines same-sex marriage fundraiser in Utah

Thursday, June 19, 2014
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Modern Family actor Ty Burrell looks on during an interview Thursday, June 19, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Burrell is headlining a fundraiser in Salt Lake City on Thursday, an event staged by an organization that helps pay for the legal costs of challenging same-sex marriage bans.Rick Bowmer, AP

Modern Family actor Ty Burrell looks on during an interview Thursday, June 19, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Burrell is headlining a fundraiser in Salt Lake City on Thursday, an event staged by an organization that helps pay for the legal costs of challenging same-sex marriage bans.

Thursday’s event comes as gay marriage advocates wait for a federal appeals court in Denver to decide whether Utah’s same-sex marriage ban is constitutional. A federal judge overturned it in December.

Utah has become a focal point for the gay marriage movement since then, followed by a string of similar rulings by judges in other states. The latest came in Wisconsin, marking the 15th consecutive ruling supporting gay marriage since a landmark Supreme Court ruling last summer.

Modern Family actors Ty Burrell, left, and co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, right, pose with plaintiffs Laurie Wood, center left, and Kody Partridge, center right, one of three same-sex couples who sued Utah, at a fundraiser Thursday, June 19, 2014, in Salt Lake City.Rick Bowmer, AP

Modern Family actors Ty Burrell, left, and co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, right, pose with plaintiffs Laurie Wood, center left, and Kody Partridge, center right, one of three same-sex couples who sued Utah, at a fundraiser Thursday, June 19, 2014, in Salt Lake City.

In Utah, Burrell told The Associated Press, “I think a lot of people need some time to breathe and think about” gay marriage. He characterized the state’s dominant Mormon community as “loving” and “level-headed.”

“Even if they don’t agree with something, hate isn’t really a part of the way in which they behave. They’re a very tolerant group,” he said.

When Ferguson’s character, Mitch, married his gay partner on “Modern Family,” many saw it as yet another sign of widening acceptance for gay marriage in the U.S.

“That was a huge moment for all of us,” Ferguson said, referring to the cast. “Nobody aspires to be a domestic partner. You aspire to be a wife or a husband. You aspire to marriage.”

Born and raised in Oregon, Burrell lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, a Utah native, when he is not in Los Angeles filming “Modern Family” or working on other projects.

He has said he feels much like a “Salt Laker.”

Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge, who wed in Utah in December and also brought the lawsuit, said they’re glad they get to be involved in bringing marriage equality to Utah.

“We said, this is our state, this is our home, this is where we want to be wed,” Partridge said. “Six months has been wonderful.”

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